When I love something as much as I love libraries, I tend to sing it to the world. And sing to the world I did.
Me and my big mouth.
The story: The Public Library of New London got a new Executive Director about 6 months ago. I'm friendly with her sons, who are local, so I was eager to meet her. She comes into the Tavern for potato salad and ginger ale and to read the papers, and we spoke occasionally. Occasionally . . . until one fateful evening at the Tavern when I was feeling really friendly, overly friendly, just super friendly, and I started gushing about my love for libraries, and my love for the New London Library.
I told her that during our years on the road the public library was a vital part of our daily lives. Every town has a library, and every library has internet computers, thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Smaller towns are even better than big towns, usually, because there are plenty of computers and not too many people. We'd get online, we'd use the bathrooms (not necessarily in that order), we'd talk to the librarians and ask about good places in town to eat or to see, I'd photocopy the NYTimes crossword puzzle, Bill would look at the book sale rack, and we'd be on our merry way.
Many times during our years on the road we'd stay in one place for several months, volunteering at the local state park for 2 or 3 days a week in exchange for free camping, water and electricity. In those towns (like Fort Davis and Alpine and Marfa, Texas, and Big Pine Key and Keystone Heights and Micanopy, Florida) we got to know the libraries -- and the librarians -- really well. The librarians would recognize us even when they hadn't seen us for a couple of years.
I'm also intimately familiar with the Asheville, NC library (as well as the adorable Ocracoke library out in North Carolina's Outer Banks), the Evanston, IL library, the San Diego County library system (with a killer one in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, across the street from San Elijo State Park), and my beloved Columbus NM library and, of course, the Nogales, AZ library, where I posted my very first blog post (and my second, and my third.....)
We stopped in the Gila Bend, Arizona public library one spring day in 2008 and I wired a whole lot of cash to some guy in New London, CT. On the way out of the building I stopped to tell the librarian I'd never forget that library, because we bought our house from there.
Statue outside of Hill City, Kansas Public Library
So I told New London's new Executive Director all of that, and more, because not only am I an avid enthusiastic library lover, I'm a champion talker. She asked me if I would come to her office so she could interview me for the library online newsletter. "Of course!" I exclaimed enthusiastically. "I'd be happy to!"
A pretty awesome library card collection, you gotta admit
. . . I oohed and aahed at her gorgeous office in the old part of the library, and that was that.
The next day she came into the Tavern and asked if I'd consider speaking at the New London budget hearing on Monday night at the NLHS Auditorium. In front of people. At a public meeting. "Um, sure [gulp]. Of course [gulp]. I'd be, um, glad to [gulp]."
And now if you'll excuse me, I'm headed to the New London Library.